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Geoff Newling Reviews Saturday's Gunnedah Race Meeting

By Geoff Newling

Race 1: I’m Sanzzee broke through for a deserving win when the Gunnedah mare surged to a home-track win at Gunnedah Jockey club’s Riverside course today. The five-year-old daughter of Snippetson chased race leader Forever Fillis into the straight, taking over and fighting off Leon Davies’ Akeelah to post a neck win in the My Gunnedah/Ultrafleet Ultra Diva Maiden Plate (1000m). Sophie Young was the winning jockey and a little critical of her ride too as she unsaddled. “I went a tad early,” she told Gavin Groth. But she was travelling so well.” Gavin Groth wasn’t concerned. “You did the right thing pushing forward after they jumped,” Gavin Groth said. “It was a good ride, good work, well done.” It was her sixth race start for Gunnedah trainer Gavin Groth, who marvels she is racing at all. “She’s had a couple of bad injuries,” he said. Had a bone chip taken out as a three-year-old and then got an infection in a back tendon. she had 18 months off coming into this preparation. Pleased to win today, she was placed to win too. I’d set her for this after running a good fifth at Tamworth.” He’s not sure where he will go with the mare now. “Maybe a Class 1 at Narrabri in two weeks,” he said.

Race 2: Sophie Young ended a riding drought by securing the first two races at Gunnedah Jockey Club’s Boggabri Cup day today. After winning the first race with Gavin Groth’s mare I’m Snazzee she then waltzed away with the second race, the Hope Fuel Gold Cup Day Sunday May 28 Maiden Handicap (1400m). While she had waited until the turn to make her move on the Gunnedah mare she took the bit between the teeth and led on Coonabarabran gelding Snow Moon. After leading by four lengths around the back and then giving the son of Snippetson a breather approaching the turn the gelding kicked strongly to carve out a six and a quarter length win from Sally Torrens’ Defying Luck. “It was a nice win,” Sophie Young said after unsaddling. “I knew he was fit. He ran a mile at Moree last week, went to the front and just got run down.” While she gambled on his fitness ensuring he had something left she was still surprised “he kicked so well in the straight”. Part-owner Mark Baker, was surprised he won. “He surprised us all,” Mark Baker said. "Got beat in a four horse race at Moree the other day. We didn’t think he was much good, didn’t know where he’d end up really.” Mark races the four-year-old gelding with his brother Mick and his wife Ann. They reside in Gulgong while Mark is at Coonabarabran where trainer Wayne Martyn prepares the gelding. “Wayne had to look after his crook mother today,” Mark Baker said.

Race 3: Smart Bet arrived on time to grab well-backed King Kestrel and win today’s feature race at Gunnedah, the Boggabri RSL Club Boggabri Cup (2050m). The Les Roberts-trained King Kestrel had been the medium of some good bets leading into the benchmark 49 handicap over the Cox Plate distance of 2050m and led until the final 50m when Melanie Bolwell and Smart Bet flashed to a half length win. Bolwell, 22, is apprenticed to Sue Grills at Tamworth. Grills’ former apprentice, Sophie Young, had won the first two races at Gunnedah on Boggabri Cup day and then Bolwell ended something of a drought as well. “We’ve all been going through a bit of spy spell,” Melanie said of Sue Grills and Sophie Young. Sue Grills had ended her drought by training four winners the previous weekend and then the two female riders backed up with their own successes today. “That was my 12th win,” Melanie Bolwell added. “Enjoying it, it is hard work but it pays off.” She thought she might have given King Kestrel too much of a break but “it was a good effort in the end”. Theresa Lennon trains Smart Bet at Inverell but is on an overseas holiday at the moment. She entrusted husband, Josh, with the reins and he was delighted with the seven-year-old mare’s third race win. “She’s been a good honest old mare for us,’ Josh Lennon said. “She’s won three for us now and run a lot of places. She’s always at the right end and trying her heart out."

Race 4: Dos Santos might be a starter in the Narrabri Cup after his gallant win at Gunnedah today. The Sally Torrens-owned and trained gelding fought off grey Azzalin to win the Omega Feeds/Coolabah Produce Benchmark 50 Handicap (1300m) by a length with Sandra Ollerton’s Artistic Licence a half length away third. While it was Dos Santos’ fourth career win in 36 starts it was his first for Gunnedah-based Torrens. Yes, his first win for me,” she replied when asked of his history. “I’ve only had him for half a dozen starts. Ran a couple of placings at Tab meetings too so he’s paid his way.” Mollie Partridge claimed 1.5kg off his 59kg and rated the gelding son of Medaglia D’Oro perfectly. Even when Azzalin, who was trying to earn Inverell trainer Theresa Lennon a double after the previous race success of Smart Bet, she didn’t panic and rode Dos Santos out strongly. "He felt enormous,” Mollie Partridge told Torrens. “She rode him perfectly,” Sally Torrens said. “But he’s a magnificent looking horse, have a look at him,” she said as he returned to scale. She said the Narrabri Cup in a fortnight might be Dos Santos’ next mission.

Race 5: Melanie Bolwell made it a double when the Tamworth apprentice saved Cedee Prince for a late and final dash to win today’s Happy Birthday Tania Benchmark 50 Handicap (1300m). The 22-year-old jockey rode a patient race on the Sue Grills-trained five-year-old gelding before swooping on leader One Tin Soldier. The Peter Cleal-trained One Tin Soldier and Jodi Worley had led all the way before Cedee Prince arrived late to notch a nose win. Shades Of Pearl was three quarters of a length away third. Melanie Bolwell had won earlier in the day aboard the Theresa Lennon-trained Smart Bet. Bolwell’s 13th winner gave Sue Grills her 22nd winner of the season. Sue’s son, Todd Grills, was in charge of the stable’s runners today and he was delighted for Melanie to ride a double as well as Cedee Prince notching a third career win. “That was a bit of a surprise,” he said of Cedee Prince’s return to the winners stall. “He had run a good race at Walcha though when he had an awkward run. He was real fit too. Mel did a great job and we’re very happy to win for Allan Piddington. He’s been a real good client for many years.” Todd said Melanie’s patient ride was a highlight. "We jumped well,” she said. "He travelled well. I just sat and let them go and had a good run into it.”

Race 6: Kaylee Kirkwood completed a female domination when she powered Folkstone to a front-running win in the last race of the Boggabri Cup meeting at Gunnedah today. The Dubbo apprentice partnered the Luke Morgan-owned and trained Folkstone to a long neck win from fast-finishing Sinnendor in the XXXX Gold/Local Sporting Clubs Race Day Challenge Class 1 Handicap (1000m). Sophie Young and Melanie Bolwell both posted winning doubles and Mollie partridge the other race as the four female jockeys left their male riders out in the cold. It followed the previous day’s Quirindi Cup where Rachel King, Rachael Murray and Alison Threadwell rode the placings in the Quirindi Cup. Rachael Murray then went to Randwick today and won the Highway Handicap for Coffs Harbour trainer Mick O’Neill, outwitting her male adversaries by sticking to the rail on a Heavy track. At Gunnedah Kaylee Kirkwood showed her expertise claiming victory for the second time on Folkstone. “Kaylee rode a double for me at Gilgandra the other day,’ Luke Morgan said. "She’s apprenticed to Peter Nestor at Dubbo. Used to be with Ross Stitt and has ridden 60 or 70 winners. She’s a good girl.” Drawing theh one barrier enabled Kirkwood to jump and run and defy the opposition from running them down, Luke Morgan said. "He only fell in but that was enough. He’s no world beater but will go for a spell now.” Folkstone is by Dubleo out of a good race mare, Dido. She was owned and raced by Walcha’s Jill Nivison, who gave Folkstone to Luke to race and train. "His mother won four from four,” Luke Morgan said, "I even won on her so she must have been good,” he joked.

View the results and race replays for Gunnedah here

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